Date: Wed, 16-Jan-85 00:59:46 EST
Posted: Wed Jan 16 00:59:46 1985
Date-Received: Fri, 18-Jan-85 02:18:43 EST
Organization: Tektronix, Beaverton OR
Xref: watmath net.games.frp:1124 net.games.go:140 net.games.pbm:142 net.games.rogue:2555 net.games.trivia:1511 net.games.video:398
First of all, let me apologize for the multiple post-
ings, posting to groups where I am not allowed
(net.women.only), and, in general, making a mess of the net.
Also, let me say that ALL RESPONSES to this should either
use net.news or private mail to me. Again I apologize for
the inconvenience, but in this case, due to this mes-
sage's importance, I feel this is justified.
Also, the opinions posted here are my own and in no way
reflect those of my employer or any of its other employees.
Primarily, the message is that, unless something is
done shortly, this newsgroup may not exist a year or two
from now. To understand why requires a bit of history.
The USENET was at first a very small net. Being a very
small network, the news software was written as an unmo-
derated bulletin board system, where anyone could post items
thought to be of interest to all. As time went on, the suc-
cess of this concept became evident, as shown by the
increased number of machines on the news network and the
corresponding increased volume of news items. In fact, the
volume of news items increased so much that some of the
backbone sites were finding it hard to justify the cost of
news forwarding over long distance phone lines.
A few months ago, a group of network administrators got
together and decided to fund a project called "STARGATE".
Basicly, this was a sound idea. News sources would be
routed to the STARGATE transmitter which would beam the mes-
sages to a satellite which would, in turn, relay the mes-
sages to more localized network hubs, thus alleviating the
need for as many long distance calls. A satellite carrier
was found and the plans for designing hardware and software
put into motion.
Unfortunately, the people who have promoted this scheme
could not leave well enough alone. They felt that the
volume of "garbage" flowing through the net was too high.
They felt that the carrier of these messages might be able
to be sued for possibly libelous messages. They felt that
this was their chance to play God and they took it. In
short, the new network will have no unmoderated news.
Any message that is to be transmitted through STARGATE
will be screened by a moderator for "suitability of con-
tent", "possibility of libel", and other vague criteria
which only he moderators will know. You won't be able to
protest a bounced message, because the moderator is the only
person with a right to relay your message to the STARGATE.
If your article is bounced or edited beyond recognition you
won't be able to defend yourself - how are you going to get
a message past the moderator? In short, you can call it
moderation, but it's still a euphemism for censorship.
"Fine," you say, "We'll just post it in groups that
don't go through the STARGATE." Well, I wish that were pos-
sible. Unfortunately, the backbone sites have decided that
since they have STARGATE, and all of the "important" groups
are there, they don't have to forward news articles in other
"less popular" groups. The net, except for STARGATE ser-
vice, has effectively been destroyed. The only people for
whom the net exists freely is the moderators. The modera-
tors decide what are "acceptable" topics for the net. They
have the power to say what you can say.
The new people in power bleat, "We're saving the net.
Without this the backbone sites will desert, anyway." What
good is saving the net if only the people in power can enjoy
it? If they cared about the net (and not just their cozy
little portion of it) they'd fight in their institutions to
save it. The news network, as it stands now, is something
unique and should not be drastically altered.
What can we do about this? I really can't think of
much. The net has always been voluntary. One thing is cer-
tain, though. As soon as STARGATE goes into effect, the
chances for a free network surviving is nil. The institu-
tions involved can point to STARGATE and say that there's a
perfectly good network right there. There will be very lit-
tle chance to start a new network at that time. So the only
thing I can suggest is to try to stop STARGATE in any way
possible. Let the people who conceived of this know that it
is not appreciated. E-Mail bomb them. Flame them until
they drop. If you see them in public, spit on them. Hide
dog turds in their desks. Disrupt the next USENIX meeting.
Check with your local ACLU to see if there are any legal
means to stop this. Harass them in any way possible.
In the mean time, organize. Let your institution know
that you appreciate this service they provide to you. Let
them know that any change in the posting criteria of one of
the last free bulletin board systems is not appreciated.
Set up an alternative network to take this net's place when
it folds. Hopefully, there will be a place for unmoderated
news posting when this is over.
The organizers have been less than honest with you.
They hide in net.news (and net.news.stargate), discussing
these things which will alter your news service, without
generally informing the public. The first you would have
heard about it is when backbone sites would have said,
"We're not transmitting anything but moderated groups from
now on." You wouldn't have been able to stop them. Goodbye,
net.women. Goodbye, net.motss. Goodbye, net.singles.
Goodbye, net.rec.*. Goodbye, net.flame. Goodbye, every
news group that doesn't relate directly with what you do at
work, is politically unpopular, or that your administrator
just doesn't like.
It looks as if a great experiment is coming to an end.
But it doesn't have to be this way, if we work together.
Save the net. Stop the STARGATE. Don't let them take away
a unique and wonderful resource from us. Together, we can
Stop the STARGATE,